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Yes, I still sit at the kid’s table on Thanksgiving.

Another holiday with Mom has passed and I managed to survive. There was no alcohol, so you should be extra impressed. For those of you who are just joining, you might want to read some previous posts for background information on Mom. I would start with the time we ate at Golden Corral, then read the time she needed help buying a computer, and finish with our most recent Mother’s Day.

I’ll be here when you’re finished. All done? Great.

This year, Husband’s Parents decided to take one for the team and graciously invited Mom, Mom’s Weird Boyfriend, and Grandma to their family’s Thanksgiving festivities. I think they’re trying to earn extra credit points with Heaven or something. Whoever is in charge of those points needs to email Mother In Law a gift certificate, stat.

My day with Mom began before I left my house, when my phone rang. I already knew who it was, and why she was calling.

Mom: I’m on the road and I need directions.

Me: Mom, you’ve been there at least 15 times. I know that you know how to get there.

Mom: If I knew how to get there, I wouldn’t be calling you! Now, don’t I take ___ to ___ and turn onto ____?

Me: Yes, Mom. You’re right. See! You knew how to get there.

By some miracle of nature, Mom ended up arriving before Husband and I did. I felt horrible about it because this is similar to the concept of leaving a wolf enclosed with a group of chickens.

Hungry Wolf

I’m looking forward to talking to you for the next seven hours. (Photo credit: doublejwebers)

You see, Mom likes nothing more than to complain about the recent events in her life, and this week, she happened to have a minor surgery. No big deal. She’s ok. However, I was sure this would be blown to open-heart proportions in her head, and I wasn’t there to act as a buffer between Husband’s normal family and my dysfunctional version.

When I walked in, Grandma was sitting on the couch by herself. She can barely see anymore, and she didn’t know I was there until I sat next to her and gave her a peck on the cheek. Within 5 seconds, I had gained a fuchsia lip print on my cheek and warm compliments about how nice it was to see me. Grandma is one cool cat.

I headed toward the spare bedroom where I always leave my coat and purse, and Mom followed me in. Naturally, we made nice and wished one another a Happy Thanksgiving. She asked me to put her necklace on for her, and I obliged. It seemed like this could be a normal day. Then, I turned around to leave.

Mom grabbed me by the shoulders and brought her face within inches of mine.

“I need you to be respectful of me, little girl,” she said.

“What?”

“Don’t get nasty with me on the phone just because I don’t know how to get here.” She squeezed my shoulders harder as I tried to wrestle away.

“Mom, you repeated the directions to me on the phone. You DID know how to get here.”

For the next few minutes, we had a circular conversation on this lovely topic, until I finally broke loose and escaped to the couch, next to Grandma. Grandma is pretty lonely, as people her age get to be sometimes, and she eagerly began telling me about her friend who drives her places. Capital letters represent Mom, who began interjecting sentences between us from a few feet away.

“My eyes aren’t good at all anymore. I can’t drive, of course – YOU KNOW I HAVEN’T BEEN HERE IN YEARS – but my friend picks me up and takes me to go out to eat and so on. It’s so nice to get out of the house, you know. I can’t really watch TV anymore – YEP, I BET THE LAST TIME I WAS HERE WAS WHEN YOU GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL – but sometimes I turn on my lamp and magnifying glass – MAYBE I WAS HERE FOR ANOTHER THANKSGIVING. BUT YOU KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO GET HERE – and I try to read 3 or 4 pages until my eyes just give up.”

English: A man making the facepalm gesture.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The food was great, you guys. Mother In Law instituted a kid’s table even though the youngest person there was 23, which was Sister, to be specific. All 23-30 year olds sat at the kid’s table and we had a great discussion about the semi trailer that now resides in my yard and the chicken coop that Husband wants to build underneath it. This is my real life.

Now I’m thinking about all the amazing food I ate yesterday and now I’m starving, but I don’t have much to make except frozen buffalo wings from a bag. Pretty sure they call this post-holiday depression. I just call it hungry as hell.

Anyway, Mom behaved pretty well for the rest of the day. She even brought me flowers for inviting her, and admitted that it was Grandma’s idea to get them. Mother In Law says that Mom made polite conversation at the big person’s table (ages 30-90), which made me proud. My girl is growing up. All in all, it was a good day, full of good food…

Bowl of "Wings"

Bowl of “Wings” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think I have a date with a plastic bag of frozen food and my oven.

Three hours of stray cat stories and a tragic trip down a slide

This post is two months overdue and the main reason I haven’t written it is because I truly don’t know how to put it into words. Hopefully, the title grabbed your attention because if you read this entire story, I promise not to disappoint. The best way to start is for you to read this story about Mom’s birthday at Golden Corral, which was almost exactly a year ago. There’s a lot of back story on her that you need to know to fully understand her personality.

Today’s story is the adventure of Mother’s Day 2012 and it’s 100% true. Gather closely, dear readers. Top off your coffee and make sure you have a comfortable chair. Ok – here we go.

Sister graciously offered to have Mom and Grandma over for this year’s annual festivities. If Mom had her way, this would include the following activities:

  • The showering of a multitude of gifts from her registry (each gift must be at least a $50 value)
  • A skit put on by Sister and myself reenacting all of the times she was the World’s Best Mother (must include the word “sacrifice” a minimum of 25 times)
  • A feast of filet mignon, crab legs, oysters, and caviar
  • Unlimited and uninterrupted story time regarding her current crises (may include the words “agony” and “hopeless” in every sentence)
  • A minimum of five sappy cards from each daughter. Funny cards will be returned to sender and will result in an additional $50 gift.

What you need to understand is first of all, this isn’t much of an exaggeration. And secondly, I’m not being a horrible daughter. It would take me more words than you care to read in order to explain why my mother does not deserve a single one of those festivities. Just take my word for it. I love my mom. I really do. But, she’s never been supportive of anyone except herself, and she does a poor job of that.

So anyway, Husband and I made the drive to Sister’s house in May for the Extravaganza. Upon our entrance, we heard hysterical laughter from the door to the back patio. Mom stumbled in the patio door.

“I pissed myself!” she announced between cackles and pants. “I went down the slide in the backyard, and I peed when I landed!”

I kid you not. There was no “Hi, daughter! How are you? Good to see you.” This was her legitimate introduction after not seeing me since February.

Sister pointed to Mom’s white short-shorts. “Mom, your shorts are covered in mud.”

Sister’s Fiance, D, walked in. “Yeah, that’s because your mom went down the slide and when she landed, she flipped forward and faceplanted right in the ground.”

Mom announced that she needed to go to the bathroom and wash her underwear.

D started snickering once Mom was out of earshot. “You guys missed it. She went down that slide so fast and when she hit the ground, she landed on her knees and fell forward. Then she was all, ‘I peed myself!'”

All this time, my poor grandma was sitting in a chair, waiting for this ridiculous scene to end so she could say hello. Grandma is the bee’s knees, to put it mildly. She’s a Rosie the Riveter, a survivor of domestic violence in the 1940s, a mother of four, and the strongest person I know. Grandma holds this dysfunctional family together with her love and generosity. That undying generosity is the only reason Mom is able to feed herself lately. Mom’s been unemployed due to unwillingness to work  unfortunate circumstances since I was in high school.

At this point, Grandma and I showered each other with kisses and greetings. I gave her one of the two bouquets of flowers that I brought and waited for Mom to return so I could give the other one to her.

After a few minutes, Mom walked in, holding her newly clean underwear like a banner. D appeared astonished that anyone would be proud to be holding their underwear at a family gathering. My only thought was, She’s wearing white short-shorts and she’s going commando.

We ate a delicious lunch thanks to Sister’s prowess in the kitchen, as usual, and decided to sit at the patio table to talk. Before she sat down, Mom hung her underwear about 10 feet from the table to dry. We were forced to have it in our view for the rest of the afternoon. Mom dominated the conversation before anyone else could begin. Apparently, she’s taken in a stray mother cat and its newborn kitten. She’s taken them to the vet, purchased food and a litter box for them, and keeps them locked in her bathroom because she says she’s not keeping them. Except she’s had them in there for months. But she’s not keeping them.

“How are you paying for all this? Aren’t you unemployed?” Sister asked. It’s well known that Mom can barely afford food. After all, she makes it well known to us at every visit.

“My neighbor across the street said he’d make sure I had money to keep them fed. I’ll find the money somewhere.” Sister and I shared glances and took another sip of wine. I don’t really drink, except at family gatherings. Mom thinks we’re alcoholics because of it.

For the next three hours, we listened to stories about Precious, the mother cat, and Wiggles, the baby kitten. There were exciting tales, such as the time that Wiggles meowed. And the time that Precious ate food.

English: Stray female cat.

OMG!! This one time, the cat was lying on the porch. And it was all, lying in the sun because cats love to do that. Isn’t that hilarious?? *snort* (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By the time we heard the 57th story about the time Precious walked around the bathroom, I had opened a second bottle of wine for Sister and me. Grandma had tried to tell a story here and there. In her 89 years, she has experienced some good ones to share. However, trying to speak at this occasion was rude, unless you were Mom, or unless you were commenting about the feral cats.

Around 8:00, the Extravaganza had been going strong for eight hours. Sister and I had to work the next morning and she had laundry to do. We’d been trying to drop hints that it was time to call it a night for the past hour, but Precious and Wiggles would not have it.

Finally, Sister decided it was time for action.

“Mom, you have to go. It’s late. We have to get up at 5:30 and you don’t because you have nowhere to be tomorrow.”

We kissed them goodbye and Grandma said how much she had enjoyed her visit, how wonderful the food was, and how beautiful Sister’s new house is. Mom commented that it must be nice not to live in a trailer park and to be so rich. (Sister barely qualifies as middle class, though she works her butt off in a professional field.)

Alas, it’s about that time again. Mom’s birthday is at the end of July and it will once again be time to dust off the tiara for her.

And the wine for me.